Harder than diamonds?

Researchers create new material that may be world’s hardest

Diamonds have long been considered the world’s hardest material. Scrape one across any surface, and it will leave a scratch. Press one into any surface, and it will make a dent. But the prized mineral’s record status now appears in peril: Researchers have created a new material that may be even harder than diamond.
Key to the team’s success: Pressure. Lots of it, explains Lin Wang, who works for the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Argonne, Ill. As a materials scientist, Lin studies how the structure of materials at the atomic and molecular scale relates to their overall properties.
To make the superhard substance, his team began with carbon molecules called fullerenes. Each molecule contains 60 carbon atoms arranged in a pattern that resembles a ball-shaped cage. In fact, if you were to draw a fullerene molecule and also draw all of the chemical bonds that hold its atoms together, each fullerene would look just like a soccer ball.Continue....


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